On Friday I highlighted the Left-labor-Democrat coalition’s internal confusion about whether or not Gov. Ritter’s executive order constitutes collective bargaining. Over the weekend, Denver Post editorialist Bob Ewegen – who has actually earned a degree in labor relations – set the record straight with some important observations:
The ground rules for collective bargaining in the private sector are spelled out in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which does not cover public employees. Ritter’s order basically paraphrases those federal regulations to apply to state (but not city or county) employees. The NLRA specifies how unions can be certified as “exclusive bargaining agents” for eligible employees in a specific workplace (“bargaining unit”). Supervisors above a certain level can’t be in the union.
Ritter likewise defines the possible bargaining units (“partnership units”) within state government, excludes supervisors, stipulates how unions (“employee organizations”) can win exclusive bargaining rights, requires department heads to “negotiate, in good faith, a partnership agreement (contract) with the certified employee organizations” and outlines what those contracts can cover and how they can be enforced.
If that’s not collective bargaining, then it’s at least the walking duck equivalent, perhaps best described as “collective quacking.”
An ardent opponent of TABOR and far from a fiscal conservative or a Republican partisan, Ewegen just stepped in to tell the less responsible voices on the Left to at least come to terms with facts and reality on the unionization of state employees.
Of course, the problem really isn’t that the Left has failed to come to terms with the facts. It’s that the Left doesn’t want the average Colorado voter to think about the implications of the governor’s action. Again, as Ewegen points out:
Ritter insists he only wants these “partnerships” to “bring managers and employees together to make government services more effective, efficient and reliable for the public.” But you can search the annals of labor history and never find firebrands like Mother Jones exhorting workers to arise and “identify and implement efficiency measures and eliminate waste and redundancies,” as Ritter urges them to do. CAPE/SEIU, whose 5,000 members make it by far the largest state employee organization, openly proclaims that Ritter’s order will ” enable us to negotiate job and service improvements directly.”
CAPE/SEIU’s immediate goal will be to boost the state contribution to its employees’ health care benefits – an area where Colorado ranks 49th out of the 50 states, according to a report by Workplace Economics, Inc.
Obviously, union organizers hope these baby steps will some day lead to full-fledged bargaining rights, including setting wages, hours, work rules and other mainstays of private sector unions. Business interests – and Republicans wary of the huge sums employee unions can spend to elect Democratic politicians sympathetic to their aims – fear that may indeed prove to be the case.
Not much time or effort is needed to deduce why Colorado’s well-subsidized Lefty propaganda echo chamber is more interested in confusion, distortion, deception, and hyperbole. They know that Ritter’s new policy is politically beneficial to the interests of their “progressive” coalition, but not to most of Colorado’s citizens or its economy.
It’s the same reason behind Ewegen’s explanation for much of the outrage on the Republican side: Ritter’s unionization order empowers labor organizations to increase their already rigged in-state campaign finance advantage. More cash automatically deducted from the coffers of state workers into Democrat campaigns and 527 groups means less the Lefty millionaires have to spend to buy Colorado elections themselves.